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Behind the Desk: The Story of Late Night

More than 60 years ago, the creation of late night TV changed the face of television forever. From Johnny Carson, to David Letterman, to Arsenio Hall, the late night show format continues to endure, evolving to keep pace each new generation. In Behind the Desk: The Story of Late Night host Bill Carter takes us on a journey through late night television’s most memorable moments with first-hand, behind-the-scenes accounts from some of the most notable names in late night history. 

Behind the Desk: The Story of Late Night is a companion podcast to CNN’s Original Series, The Story of Late Night.

Let's Go Behind the Desk Behind the Desk: The Story of Late Night
More than 60 years ago, the creation of late night TV changed the face of television forever. From Johnny Carson, to David Letterman, to Arsenio Hall, the late night show format continues to endure, evolving to keep pace each new generation. In Behind the Desk: The Story of Late Night host Bill Carter takes us on a journey through late night television’s most memorable moments with first-hand, behind-the-scenes accounts from some of the most notable names in late night history.
Behind the Desk: The Story of Late Night is a companion podcast to CNN’s Original docuseries, The Story of Late Night.
Trailer
The Host Behind the Desk: The Story of Late Night
Bill Carter speaks with legendary hosts Jimmy Kimmel and Dick Cavett, the genre's newest star Amber Ruffin, Conan O’Brien’s sidekick Andy Richter and many more to dissect one of TV’s hardest, most challenging jobs - the late night TV host. These individuals aren’t just the stars of the show: they’re writers, directors, and crisis managers. While they are everything from charming to difficult, inspiring to insecure, and even downright eccentric, their genius shines bright when they consistently make it all look so easy - five nights a week, every week!
Apr 22, 2021
The Format Behind the Desk: The Story of Late Night
The monologue, the desk, the guests, the band. The ingredients of the late night TV formula are familiar, yet fickle. Get them just right and a show can last for decades. Make one mistake and your career is over – fast. In this episode, we explore the alchemy that turns a late night TV show into ratings and social media gold. Jimmy Kimmel, Desus & Mero, David Letterman producer and co-creator of The Daily Show co-creator Madeleine Smithberg, Tonight Show regular Byron Allen and more give us insights into the hardships of mastering the formula perfected by Johnny Carson.
Apr 22, 2021
The Writers Behind the Desk: The Story of Late Night
Host Bill Carter pulls back the curtain for a peek inside the all-important writers’ room. In these four walls, the comedy elite put in long hours each week as they sift through hundreds of jokes, in search of the ones that will land the biggest laughs. Guests include Amber Ruffin, Jimmy Kimmel, Dick Cavett, Conan producer Robert Smigel and The Colbert Report's executive producer Alison Silverman.
Apr 29, 2021
The Comics Behind the Desk: The Story of Late Night
For as long as “late night” has been an institution, stand-ups, sitcom stars, and even future hosts have begun their careers as late night comics. With insights from Trevor Noah, Jimmy Kimmel, Ray Romano, Byron Allen, Carol Leifer, Jimmy Brogan, Brian Regan and Elayne Boosler, host Bill Carter explores how the genre has been a golden door for talent and how social media has created a new jumping off point that veers from tradition.
May 6, 2021
The Politics Behind the Desk: The Story of Late Night
Modern late night TV serves as a number one news source for audiences who devour humorous but critical insights of American society and politics. With commentary from Trevor Noah, Roy Wood Jr., Amber Ruffin, Sarah Cooper and others, Bill Carter maps out the journey that transformed much of late night from escapist entertainment to political satire.
May 13, 2021
The Future Behind the Desk: The Story of Late Night
Late night TV sensibilities crash through the status quo and frame society to expose all that is fun, funny and non-sensical about it. As a diverse new group of hosts ascend, the late night landscape looks less and less like the old white boys club of the past. With the help of Amber Ruffin, Desus & Mero, Ziwe, Trevor Noah and more, Bill Carter analyzes late night’s bright, inclusive future as it shakes off a historical resistance to woman and the BIPOC community.
May 20, 2021